Survivors of the Holocaust are more likely to suffer from cancer and die from it, researchers say.
Nani Vine Raviv and his colleagues at Israel's Haifa University suspect that cancers are most likely caused by the near-starvation of European Jews during World War II.
The researchers looked at the incidence and death rate from cancer in around four million Israelis of European origin - comparing those who emigrated from Europe before 1939 with those who arrived in Israel after the war ended in 1945.
Those who had been in Europe during the Holocaust were more than twice as likely to suffer cancer later in life, and up to 13 percent less likely to survive the disease.
Some cancers were particularly common among Holocaust survivors, they found.
For example, cancer of the large intestine was nine times likely to afflict male survivors.
'The age at which Jewish people experienced the Holocaust was important', Micha Barchana of Israel's National Cancer Registry was quoted as saying by the New Scientist.
'Girls who were less than 10 years old during the war were twice as likely to get breast cancer as those who were adults at the time,' said Barchana, who was also involved in the study.
Barchana hopes the study will lead to greater awareness of the cancer risks faced by Holocaust survivors, and improved detection.
According to him, one reason for the higher death rates may be that many survivors get diagnosed later, so recovery rates are worse.
'Perhaps they have had so much suffering in their lives that they cannot face up to the possibility of cancer,' he says.
(Source: IANS News)